Last Friday was Hallowe'en, which is one of my favourite festivals. 31st October is also the Wiccan/Pagan sabbat Samhain and Hallowe'en originated from that.
Samhain (pronunciations include "Sow-in" or "Sow-ain") is the witches' New Year and is the most important of the Major Sabbats. It is the last of the harvest festivals. There are 3 altogether, the others are Lammas and Madron. Samhain means "Summer's End" and it marks the proper onset of winter. While the days have been getting steadily shorter since Madron/the Autumn Equinox in September, we're now really entering into the darkest half of the year. The days will continue to get shorter and the nights longer until Yule (Midwinter/the Winter Solstice) in December. The Sun God "dies" during this time of year but will be reborn at Yule. Samhain is also the time when the veil between this world and the next are at their thinnest (similar to Beltane) and the dead are thought to come back to visit their loved ones.
31st October is New Year's Eve and 1st November is New Year's day, so the festival is often celebrated on both days. The old traditions have evolved into modern day Hallowe'en. The practice of lighting a pumpkin is thought to have originated from the pagan ritual of lighting a candle to honour and welcome your ancestors and keep unwanted spirits away.
The colours of Samhain are dark red, purple, black, green and orange. Popular activities include divination and honouring your ancestors by lighting a white candle and setting a place for them at the table. Hallowe'en is very commercial nowadays (more so than when I was child in the 90s even) which is good because it means there are lots of things available in the shops and ideas of things to do. If you are a Wiccan or a pagan (or interested in both those beliefs) you can combine Wiccan/pagan and mainstream traditions but of course you don't have to be one to enjoy Hallowe'en because it's celebrated by lots of different people. :) Trick or treating is a popular activity that many non pagans take part in and people often have parties. I never went trick or treating when I was young because my mum didn't believe in it. (She didn't agree with the idea of knocking on strangers' doors!). If I have children in the future I would like to take them trick or treating.
This year I had some food (buffet type stuff) and drink to celebrate. I like to make a drink called Demon's Blood (I got the recipe from the book The Real Witches' Kitchen by Kate West). You can read more about Demon's Blood in this post: Hallowe'en drinks.
Last year I wasn't able to use green food colouring, so I used red instead. Visit last year's Hallowe'en post to see what it looked like: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2013/11/halloweensamhain.html
I bought some new green food colouring in plenty of time this year. I think it looks much better green, lol. Here's a picture of it along with the pumpkin giant cupcake I bought from Asda:
And here's this year's pumpkin:
Hope everyone had a good Samhain/Hallowe'en!:)
To read more about this festival visit these links: